A Home Improvement Loan: How To Get One

A Home Improvement Loan: How To Get OneWith more people spending time at home than ever before, many people are wondering how they can go about changing the way the home is laid out. This can be an expensive project, which is why many people are interested in getting a home improvement loan.

With many people buying outdated houses, there are numerous projects that many homeowners want to finish; however, this process is not the same as applying for a mortgage. There are home equity lines of credit, cash-out refinance opportunities, and financing through the contracting company. How is the process of applying for a home improvement loan different, and what do homeowners need to know?

Gather The Right Information Before Tapping Into Home Equity

One of the most common ways homeowners complete projects is to tap into the equity in the home. Therefore, no matter what option someone chooses, they need to make sure they gather the right information. All homeowners must make sure they have a great credit score before pursuing this option. Homeowners have the right to check their credit score once per year free of charge. They also need to have documents that verify their income, as lenders will want to take a look at someone’s debt to income ratio. Other forms of debt include car payments, credit card debt, and student loans.

Compare The Cost Of The Loan Options

Next, homeowners need to take a look at the cost of each loan. There are home equity loans, home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), and cash-out refinances. The interest rates on these loans can vary depending on the market, and many of them will have closing costs as well. Homeowners need to take a look at the costs and the interest rate to figure out which option works best for them. Some of these loans have adjustable rates on them, which can make them risky, and some of these loans have limits that are dependent on the amount of equity in the home.

Fixer Upper Loans Are Available

Those who have purchased a home in dire need of repairs might qualify for a rehabilitation loan, which is a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) 203(k) rehabilitation loan. This provides funds for renovations and repairs that are necessary to restore a home. Consider all options available before deciding.

What Are The Requirements To Sell A Home Using An FHA Loan?

What Are The Requirements To Sell A Home Using An FHA Loan?Before an owner can market a property to buyers that want to use a FHA loan, he will want to familiarize himself with the FHA’s standards. FHA won’t insure loans on just any property.

While their standards aren’t as stringent as they used to be, a home needs to be in relatively good condition to qualify for FHA financing.

Location And Lot

To qualify for FHA financing, the property has to be located on a road or easement that lets the owner freely enter and exit.

The access also has to be paved with a surface that will work all year a long dirt driveway that washes out in spring won’t qualify.

The FHA also wants the lot to be safe and free of pollution, radiation and other hazards. For that matter, it also needs to provide adequate drainage to keep water away from the house.

Property Exterior

The FHA’s requirements for making a loan start with the home’s roof. To pass muster, the house must have a watertight roof with some future life left. In addition, if the roof has three or more layers of old shingles, they must all be torn off as part of the replacement process.

The property’s exterior has to be free of chipped or damaged paint if the home has any risk of having lead paint. Its foundation should also be free of signs of exterior (and interior) damage. It also needs full exterior walls.

Property Interior

The property’s interior also needs to be inspected. FHA standards require that the home’s major systems be in good working order.

Bedrooms should have egress routes for fire safety and the attic and basement should be free of signs of water or mold damage.

The bottom line is that the FHA wants to make loans on homes that borrowers can occupy. This doesn’t mean that a home has to be in perfect condition to be sold to an FHA mortgage-using borrower. It just needs to be a place that they can live.

What To Know About Shopping For Mortgage Rates

What To Know About Shopping For Mortgage RatesApplying for a home loan can be an exciting process; however, this is a major financial decision. Therefore, potential homeowners need to make sure they understand how to shop for the best mortgage rate possible. A mortgage is usually a long-term loan, allowing potential homeowners to purchase a home using small monthly payments. Fortunately, there are a variety of tools available that can make the process easier. What do potential homeowners need to know when shopping for mortgage rates? 

Do Get A Pre-Approval Letter

First, all potential homeowners need to get a pre-approval letter before they start the home-buying process. Because the market is competitive, buyers need to get a pre-approval letter to show they can secure financing for a home they want to purchase. Sellers want to know the deal is going to go through if they make an agreement with someone. The pre-approval letter will allow someone applying for a home loan to compete with other offers, including cash ones. 

Do Not Go The Easy Route

One of the biggest mistakes people make when taking out a home loan is going with their existing bank. It is possible their current bank may provide competitive rates; however, applicants should not choose their existing bank solely because this is the easiest option. Instead of going with the easiest option, get the best possible rate from a lender. 

Do Work With A Professional

Applying for a mortgage is a complicated process, so potential homeowners need to work with a professional who can guide the way. A trained, licensed professional can help applicants go through this process, explaining why they need certain documents. Then, a professional loan officer can advocate on behalf of the applicant, increasing their chances of earning approval from the lender. 

Do Not Overlook Other Potential Expenses

Many homeowners overlook other potential expenses that come with owning a home. For example, homeowners also need to budget for real estate taxes and homeowners’ insurance. Even though this is wrapped into the monthly payment, this is not included in the mortgage. This can blindside homeowners who are not prepared. Homeowners also need to think about potential maintenance expenses. This is important when homeowners are trying to budget accordingly. 


What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 13, 2021

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - September 13, 2021Last week’s economic reporting was limited due to the Labor Day holiday. Job openings were reported along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims.

July Job Openings Higher Than Expected

The Labor Department reported record job openings for the fifth consecutive month in July. Economists said that the data used in the report lagged by a month and the readings were not impacted by the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus.

Job openings fell in construction, trade, transportation, and utilities. There were less than 0.80 unemployed available for each job opening in July. Hiring fell by 160,000 hires to 6.70 million hires. Job separations, which included terminations and voluntary quits, rose by 174,000 to 5.80 million separations. Retirements and location transfers were not included in the job separation data. Private-sector quits rose from 3.00 percent to 3.10 percent, which indicated workers were confident they could find better jobs.

Economists don’t expect hot jobs markets to cool anytime soon. High demand for workers and rising wages indicated that less hiring is unlikely in the near term. 

Mortgage Rates Hold Steady, Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported little change in average mortgage rates last week. Rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by one basis point to 2.88 percent. Rates for 15-year mortgages also rose by one basis point to an average rate of 2.19 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged one basis point lower at 2.42 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.60 percent for 15-yar fixed-rate mortgages. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.30 percent. 

Initial jobless claims fell to 310,000 new claims filed as compared to 340,000 first-time claims filed n the previous week. Analysts estimated 335,0000 initial claims would be filed last week. Continuing jobless claims were also lower with 2.78 million ongoing claims filed; 2.81 million continuing claims were filed in the previous week.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reporting includes readings on inflation, retail sales, and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released. 

What To Know About IRS Installment Agreements And Home Loans

What To Know About IRS Installment Agreements And Home LoansWhen applying for financing, lenders want to make sure the client is going to pay back the balance of the loan. Therefore, they will look into pre-existing debt including credit card debt, student loans, car payments, and back taxes. Sometimes, applicants have IRS installment agreements. This is an agreement consumers make with the IRS to pay taxes over an extended timeframe. How might this impact someone’s ability to apply for home financing? 

IRS Installment Agreements Count Against The Debt To Income Ratio

The IRS is going to calculate someone’s debt to income ratio when figuring out whether an applicant can apply for a home loan. Therefore, lenders will view IRS installment agreements as another form of debt along with medical debt, car loans, and student loans. As long as there is not too much debt, applicants should still be able to qualify for a home loan even if they have an installment agreement with the IRS. Even though having an IRS installment agreement may reduce the size of a loan someone may qualify for, applicants can still qualify for a home loan.

Lenders Will Look At Payment Histories

Lenders will take a look at how long the IRS installment agreement has been in place. Some mortgage programs may ask for proof of timely payment history. They know that if applicants have paid their installments on time, they should pay their mortgage on time as well. Some home lenders may require a payment history of up to 12 months. It is critical to discuss all financing options with the lender when looking for a home loan. 

Applicants Must Have Proper Documentation

To qualify for a home loan with an IRS installment agreement, applicants must produce proper documentation. Lenders will ask for a copy of the agreement. Then, they will verify the payment history of this debt. Keep in mind that federal tax debt holds first priority. This means that the lender will want to protect their own interests, asking the IRS installment agreement to give up their first position in favor of the mortgage. Typically, this is not an issue; however, this is something applicants need to discuss with the loan officer. That way, they can place their application in the best position possible to be successful. 


The Pros and Cons of Paying Your Mortgage off Biweekly Versus Monthly

The Pros and Cons of Paying Your Mortgage off Biweekly Versus MonthlyIf you have a mortgage, you’re probably looking for the best option to pay it off. Monthly mortgage payments are an easy-to-manage way to pay for your house – in fact, they’re the most common form of mortgage payment  but now, many homeowners are discovering that biweekly payments offer them better results.

So is a biweekly payment the better option for you? Which payment strategy best fits your individual circumstances? Here’s what you need to know.

Biweekly Payments: Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster and Save on Interest

Biweekly payments are becoming increasingly popular for a variety of reasons. With a biweekly payment, you’ll pay less money in total interest payments over the course of the whole mortgage, and you’ll pay your mortgage off faster. Biweekly payments also make it easier to budget for your mortgage because they coincide with your paycheck, and the biweekly payment system forces you to make extra payments toward your principal.

That said, biweekly payments also have some disadvantages. If you’ve bought a home at the very top tier of what you can afford, you might not have the budget flexibility for extra payments. Your lender may also force you to pay a $300 setup fee or a processing fee for each payment.

Monthly Payments: Easier to Afford for Large Homes

Paying your mortgage off on a monthly basis has long been the standard, for a variety of reasons – for instance, most homeowners are typically more comfortable with monthly payments as they were the norm during the owner’s years as a renter. It may also be easier to manage monthly payments if you work as an independent contractor and don’t always get paid every two weeks.

Monthly mortgage payments are more affordable for owners of larger homes, which typically come with larger mortgages. A monthly payment schedule also means you make one less payment per year, and for those on a strict budget, this can help to make the daily necessities of life more affordable.

Monthly mortgage payments were once the expected norm, but now, a lot of homeowners are choosing to make biweekly payments in order to pay off their mortgages faster and better budget their money. Monthly payments still remain popular, though, for a variety of reasons.

So which one is better for you? A qualified mortgage advisor can help you determine your best course of action. Call your local mortgage professional to learn more about your mortgage payment options.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 7, 2021

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - September 7, 2021Last week’s economic news included readings on home prices from Case-Shiller; readings on construction spending and pending home sales were also released. Weekly data on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.

Case-Shiller Posts New Record for Home Price Growth in June

U.S. home prices continued to gain at record levels in June according to S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. The National  Home Price Index rose from May’s seasonally adjusted annual reading of 16.80 percent growth to 18.60 percent year-over-year home price growth in June.

Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index reported no change in the top three cities for home price growth in June. Phoenix, Arizona, San Diego, California, and Seattle, Washington retained the top three positions in the 20-City Home Price Index. Analysts said that the current pace of home price growth isn’t sustainable. Demand for homes slowed in June as affordability sidelined would-be buyers. Less demand for homes was expected to ease home price growth and provide an additional inventory of available homes.

Pending Home Sales Slow in July as Construction Spending Increases

The National Association of Realtors® reported that pending home sales slowed in July. Pending sales are sales for which purchase offers are received but are not yet closed. Pending sales of previously-owned homes fell by -1.80 percent in July;  analysts expected pending sales to rise by 0.50 percent from June’s reading of -1.90 percent. Pending home sales fell by 8.50 percent year-over-year in July. Pending home sales provide real estate pros a compass for estimating home sales completed in the future.

Homebuilders faced with an ongoing shortage of available homes for sale increased construction spending in July. Lumber and materials prices have stabilized from earlier in 2021 and should help builders complete more homes. Shortages of buildable land and skilled labor continued to impact optimum home-building conditions.

Mortgage Rates Hold Steady as Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported no change in rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, which averaged 2.87 percent; rates for 15-year fixed- rate mortgages averaged 2.18 percent and one basis point higher than in the previous week. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged one basis point higher at 2.43 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Jobless claims fell last week as 340,000 first-time claims were filed as compared to the previous week’s reading of 354,000 initial claims filed. Continuing jobless claims were also lower with 2.75 million continuing claims filed as compared to the previous week’s reading of 2.91 million ongoing claims filed.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports will be limited due to the Labor Day holiday. Readings on job openings and the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report will be released. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be published.


FICO Scores and Your Mortgage: How to Bump Your FICO Score to Secure a Better Mortgage Rate

FICO Scores and Your Mortgage: How to Bump Your FICO Score to Secure a Better Mortgage RateIs your credit score holding you back from getting the best rate on your next mortgage? The good news is that there are actions that you can take to increase your credit score and improve the interest rate offered on your next home loan.

Here are a few easy and effective tips to help you get your credit score to where you want it to be.

Increase The Amount Of Credit Available To You

The easiest way to increase your credit score is to increase your credit limit, as this reduces your utilization ratio. To do this, you can either apply for another credit card or ask a current credit card provider to increase your credit limit. Those who have a stable income and have made their monthly payments on time should have no problem getting an increase of their credit limit.

Pay Down The Balances On Your Credit Card

Paying down your credit card balances can help you increase your credit score, as a large portion of your score is determined by the percent of available credit that you are using. Ideally, you want each card balance to be under 30 percent of the total limit while also keeping your total credit usage to less than 30 percent of available credit. A utilization ratio under 30 percent tells lenders that you can manage credit responsibly.

Settle Past Due Debts

Roughly one-third of your credit score is determined by your ability to make payments in a timely manner. If you have any payments that are 30 or more days past due, you may wish to settle those debts or make arrangements to pay them.

Creditors who allow you to roll past due payments back into your loan may update your credit report to say that you are current on your payments. This could have a huge impact on your credit score and help you qualify for a better rate on a home loan.

Increasing your credit score is one of the best ways to get the best rate on a mortgage. This may enable you to gain additional leverage when negotiating for a better rate that may lower your monthly payment to a more affordable level.

For more information about how to get a great mortgage rate for your next home purchase, or for advice on how to improve your credit score, contact your local mortgage professional today.

3 Reasons Why the Cost of Title Insurance is Worth the Investment

3 Reasons Why the Cost of Title Insurance is Worth the InvestmentTitle insurance is one of the few types of protection policies available to homebuyers and one that is often overlooked because of its optional nature.

Because title insurance is purchased simultaneously with the home, it can be very easy to forego when looked at alongside all the additional fees that are associated with purchasing property.

This is typicaly not advisable, as title insurance is one of the smartest forms of protection a homeowner can buy. Here are just three reasons why every purchaser should get title insurance.

It’s The Best Protection Against Fraud

Title insurance protects the owner of a home from any claim made against their property, whether or not they are responsible. These include unpaid mortgage balances on the home, an improper foreclosure or any form of real estate fraud perpetrated by the seller.

Fraud is more prevalent now than ever before and has started to gain momentum in real estate as well. Forgeries are easier to create in the electronic age and criminals take advantage of today’s ‘do-it-yourself’ attitude to sell property they don’t actually own to unsuspecting victims.

The Insurer Performs An Exhaustive Title Search

Countless records are now made public online for low one-time payments to access them. But does anybody really know what they should be looking for? Title insurers are experts at finding anything suspicious with a home and researching exhaustively to make sure everything about the transaction is legitimate.

And if it’s not, the insurance still covers the buyer for any losses incurred if they are ordered out of their new home should a claim be made against it. Then they will research the claim to make sure it isn’t a fraudulent one.

Title Insurance Is A One-Time Fee

Although it is a large fee, title insurance only needs to be paid for once. Unlike other insurance policies that are either monthly or annually, title insurance is a one-time fee that is acquired at the time of closing. Most mortgage lenders require that their title insurance policy is paid for by the borrower anyway, so it’s not a giant leap to take out your own policy the same time.

Title insurance will also protect against mortgage fraud or any unpaid mortgages the home already has. Although title insurance is strongly recommended, it is a good idea to speak with a professional about it so that any questions you have may be answered.

Case-Shiller: June Home Prices Higher

Case-Shiller: June Home Prices HigherS&P Case Shiller Home Price Indices reported new record gains for home prices in June. The National Home Price Index rose by a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 18.60 percent as compared to May’s home price increase rate of 16.80 percent. Home prices were 41 percent higher than they were during the 2006 housing boom; home price growth was driven by high demand for homes coupled with short supplies of homes for sale.  

20-City Home Price Index Posts Month-to-Month Home Price Gain of 2 Percent

The S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index posted a two percent gain in June as compared to May. Home prices rose by 19.10 percent on a seasonally adjusted annual basis in June;  all 20 cities included in the index reported higher home prices. Phoenix, Arizona held first place for home price growth in June with a year-over-year price gain of 29.30 percent. San Diego, California held second place in the 20-City Home Price Index with a year-over-year price gain of 27.10 percent and Seattle Washington followed with year-over-year home price growth of 25.00 percent.

All 20 cities posted higher home price gains in June than in May. Craig Lazzara, managing director and global head of index investment strategy at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said: “In June all 20 cities gained more in the 12 months ended in June than they did in the 12 months ended in May.”

Analysts Say Current Home Price Growth is Unsustainable

Rapidly rising home prices sidelined would-be homebuyers who expressed concerns over the fast pace of home sales, and limited choices of available homes. Cash buyers and bidding wars continued to challenge mortgage-dependent homebuyers, but low mortgage rates continued to draw homebuyers into the market.

Covid fueled an exodus from congested urban areas to less populated areas inland. Families who modified their lifestyles to include working from home and homeschooling their children needed larger homes. As workers switched from commuting to work to telecommuting, they were no longer constrained by physical proximity to their employers, but now that businesses and workplaces are reopening, it’s unknown how or if pre-covid housing and work trends will be re-established or if covid era home-based work and schooling options will expand.

In related news, the Federal Housing Finance Agency released data on sales of single-family homes owned or mortgaged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Home prices rose 17.4 percent from the second quarter of 2020 to the second quarter of 2021.FHFA reported that home prices rose 4.90 percent from the first quarter of 2021 through the second quarter of 2021, and were 1.60 percent higher for June 2021 than in May.